Warm weather has sparked demand for British fruit, with sales in the last week of May up 108% year-on-year, according to British Summer Fruits.
The mild spring weather had prompted good pollination, which led to larger, sweeter and juicier berries, said BSF chairman Laurence Olins. Growers expected to sell some 50,000 tonnes of British strawberries this season, up from 42,000 tonnes last year, he said.
Supermarkets have been keen to promote the new season fruit. Sainsbury's reported that sales of its Basics strawberries were up 87% year-on-year in May, on the back of a £1-a-punnet promotion.
The strawberry category has benefited from more varietal development than almost any other crop. The most commonly sold variety is Elsanta, but a number of new varieties are now taking market share. Driscoll Camarillo is a mid-to-late season fruit delivering excellent flavour, English Rose is a new premium variety with an unusual orange zest flavour and Red Princess produces heart-shaped sweet berries.